Bill Gates has warned of an impending pandemic for years. Here's how he's dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, from pledging $100 million to fight the outbreak to becoming Warren Buffett's 'scientific adviser.'

  • For years, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates has warned the world of a severe, impending pandemic.
  • In a 2015 TED Talk, Gates said that "we're not ready for the next epidemic." In 2017, Gates wrote in an op-ed article for Business Insider that the next epidemic could be "a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu."
  • Gates has called the coronavirus a "once-in-a-century pathogen," and his charitable organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has committed $100 million to fight the outbreak.
  • In April, Gates called President Trump's decision to cut US funding for the WHO during the coronavirus pandemic "dangerous."
  • In a Financial Times interview, also in April, Gates warned that an outbreak on the scale of the coronavirus pandemic might occur "every 20 years or so."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.


In March, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates announced in a LinkedIn post that he would step down from the boards of Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to spend more time overseeing philanthropic ventures, with a continued focus on global health and development.

Source: Business Insider, LinkedIn

For years, Gates has talked extensively about the potentially catastrophic nature of a pandemic.

Source: Business Insider

In a 2015 TED Talk, Gates said the world was unprepared for the next epidemic. He highlighted the stellar efforts of health workers in 2014 to contain the Ebola outbreak. "There's no need to panic … but we need to get going," he said.

Source: TED

Gates repeated the sentiment in a 2017 op-ed article for Business Insider, reiterating that "we are not prepared." He said that he viewed the threat of a pandemic as being on the same level as climate change and nuclear war and that the next epidemic could be "a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu."

Source: Business Insider

In 2018, Gates said that the next pandemic was imminent and that he believed it would arise and spread within the next decade. "In the case of biological threats, that sense of urgency is lacking," he said. "The world needs to prepare for pandemics in the same serious way it prepares for war."

Source: Business Insider

Gates called the coronavirus a "once-in-a-century pathogen" in an op-ed article for the New England Journal of Medicine. He also outlined steps the world could take to contain its spread, including the speedy development and delivery of vaccines.

Source: Business Insider, New England Journal of Medicine

Gates also suggested an international database that countries could use to share information.

Source: Business Insider, New England Journal of Medicine

In early February, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to donate $100 million to fight the outbreak, including funding for frontline responders, prevention efforts, and treatment. A big chunk is reserved for vaccine development.

Source: Business Insider, Gates Foundation

In March, the Gates Foundation joined Wellcome and Mastercard in, together, pledging up to $125 million toward a COVID-19 Therapeutic Accelerator to speed up the response by enhancing treatment. The foundation put in up to $50 million, earmarked from its initial coronavirus pledge, toward this venture.

Source: Gates Foundation

The Gates Foundation also funded a project to develop at-home coronavirus detection for people in the Seattle area.

Source: Seattle Times, Business Insider, Business Insider

Chinese President Xi Jinping has thanked Gates for his "generous support."

Source: Bloomberg

In February, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett called Gates his "scientific adviser" and said Gates was focused on finding a long-term solution to the threats posed by the coronavirus.

Source: CNBC

Fortune's Eamon Barrett wrote in February that the money committed by billionaires like Bill Gates and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma for fighting the coronavirus outbreak might not necessarily go to the people who need it the most.

Source: Business Insider, Fortune

Barrett said the money might go to organizations sanctioned by the Chinese government to deal with the crisis, not necessarily aid workers on the ground in Wuhan — where the outbreak originated — who have complained about a lack of resources.

Source: Business Insider, Fortune

Gates criticized President Donald Trump's decision to cut US funding for the WHO in a tweet on April 15. Gates called the decision "dangerous" and said that "the world needs WHO now more than ever."

Source: Business Insider

In an interview with Financial Times, also in April, Gates called the coronavirus pandemic "the biggest event" most people will experience in their lifetimes. Gates also warned that a viral outbreak on this scale could occur "every 20 years or so."

Source: Financial Times

In September, Gates told CNBC that, realistically, a COVID-19 vaccine wouldn't be ready before the end of the year, but if any vaccine-maker had a shot, it's pharma giant Pfizer.

Source: CNBC

Gates has been critical of the Food and Drug Administration and expressed skepticism over its future handling and execution of the vaccine.

Source: CBS 

"You hope [the pandemic] doesn't stretch past 2022," Gates told NY Magazine's David Wallace-Wells.

Source: NY Mag

As for how Gates and his wife, Melinda, are personally weathering this pandemic, Melinda shared in an Instagram post that they're working remotely and enjoying the "natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest," while following social distancing guidelines.

Source: Business Insider

In a BBC Radio interview, Melinda shared that the couple had a stockpile of food in their basement. She said, "A number of years ago, we had talked about, you know, what if there wasn't clean water? What if there wasn't enough food? Where might we go? What might we do as a family?" She didn't say whether they had tapped into their stash yet.

Source: Business Insider

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